Mobile Identity Isn’t Just About Driver’s Licenses

Mobile identity has been an evolving technology in the citizen identity market for five years now. Most of the time and effort has been focused on mobile driver’s licenses, and there are many good reasons for that. However, mobile identity has developed so quickly that other use cases are now starting to emerge. It may surprise you to learn that Argentina is leading the way in deploying mobile identity for its national ID project.

Argentina Flag on Smartphone Screen

The Case of Argentina: National Identity on a Mobile Phone

Argentina, a country of 45 million people and a smart phone penetration of 55%, is not new to the concept of digital identity. For some years, they have had the MiArgentina App, through which holders could store a copy of an existing physical ID. This was convenient but unfortunately had no legal value, meaning it was not really accepted by anyone. There was also a previous “digital” national identity scheme that gave private parties (such as banks) the power to check the validity of an identity by providing the system with certain personal data and getting a “valid” or “invalid” response. Since the citizen could not control which personal data was accessed or how it was used, it was unpopular.
However, seeing the benefit in having a true digital ID, the government has recently issued a mobile version of the national identity card called “Smart DNI.” The citizens of Argentina can now get their Smart DNI securely deployed into the MiArgentina app, which has been upgraded to accept the new credential. Furthermore, due to recent legislation it carries equal validity to the physical national identity card. This new initiative has overcome the drawbacks of the previous schemes to deliver a digital national identity which is secure and can be accepted anywhere.

How Argentinians Benefit From Their Mobile ID

With Smart DNI, Argentinians have an identity which is always up to date. This means that when they get married and change their name or change their address they don’t need to go to an office to update their ID; they can do it remotely and the app adopts the changes immediately. They are in control of their own data all the time. As the data is stored on their phone, they can decide who to share the data with. Another benefit is that they can verify other citizens. This can be helpful when employing help in your own house, opening the door for a handyman or buying a car from a private person. This verification can even be performed when offline, which means that it can be done anywhere regardless of connectivity.

So, the world’s first major deployment of mobile identity is not a mobile driver’s license, it is securing a true identity project. There is no doubt that very soon mobile driver’s license applications will become commonplace, particularly with the progress that is being made to standardize and ensure interoperability.

The Potential of Mobile Identity

Other identity projects such as residence permits, worker’s cards and voter’s cards are the obvious candidates for moving to mobile. Such cards are often required to be carried at all times yet require high levels of security. A mobile identity brings the convenience of storage on a mobile phone and the highest levels of encryption — and ease of verification, through another mobile device. But the move to mobile offers wider opportunities such as border crossing applications, emergency travel documentation and electronic visas. The main benefit of these mobile applications is that the documents can be delivered or verified anywhere on the globe, whether or not there is an internet connection. The mobile connectivity also gives the opportunity for the citizen to communicate their location accurately to their government, allowing a channel for location-specific information to be delivered.

Finally, we should consider that mobile identity apps will ultimately become identity wallets where the citizen can store multiple credentials which prove their identities, permissions and entitlements, plus those of their family members and dependents.

Mobile identity for driver’s licenses, certainly; but the additional possibilities are numerous. To learn more about modern systems for the issuance, lifecycle management and verification of mobile identities, take a look at our mobile identity solutions.

Steve Warne is Senior Director, Product Marketing, Citizen Identification Solutions, where he is responsible for the marketing and solution strategy related to the development and growth of HID’s global government ID business. Steve has more than 15 years of experience in the government identity market.